There are plenty of occasions that call for a fancy dress. But you don’t always have to buy a prom dress or evening gown. You can make fancy dresses, too. Sewing a dress yourself will mean you get exactly what you want – in the perfect size and color. There are tons of dress patterns that will help you do this. Read on for how to make a fancy dress for any occasion!
Before you can start sewing a fancy dress you need to find the perfect pattern. Look through the large pattern books at sewing or craft stores. Joanne Fabrics is always a good place to start. Depending on the occasion you can find short fancy dresses, long evening gowns, or something in between. Ignore the material used in the pattern picture, the dress will look much different when you find material you like! When you find a couple of dress patterns you like, write down the pattern number, and pull them out.
Read the back of the dress patterns to see what's involved in making the dress. Some fancy dresses may be too much work depending your skill level. If this is the first dress you've made, try to find something that doesn't have to be lined. Instead, wear a slip and you'll save yourself a lot of work.
Next, start looking for fabric. The best materials for a fancy dress are chiffon, silk, satin and lace. Be sure to look at the back of your pattern, most will make suggestions on the best type of fabric to use. The back of the pattern will also tell you exactly how much material you'll need to buy to make the dress. If you do need to line the dress, pick up some lining too. Look for material that's specifically for lining. It's best to get something that compliments the main color of the dress. You wouldn't want to line a black evening gown with white lining.
You'll likely need at least some notions to make your fancy dress. Notions are things like buttons, snaps, zippers, and hooks. Along with the notions, pick up thread that will matches the main color of the dress. Be sure the thread works with the material you've picked out. You won't need thread to sew jeans, if you're making a silk prom dress. Finally, pick up some embellishments to make your fancy dress even prettier. The pattern may make some suggestions, but feel free to add your own. For a wedding dress, you could add a beautiful crystal brooch at the bottom of the v-neck or you could add bead work along an empire waist tea-length dress.
If the material for your gown is washable, wash it before you cut out any of your pattern pieces. This will pre-shrink the material so it doesn't shrink after you sew the dress. Cut the pattern pieces out. You don't need to cut exactly on the lines for this, you can leave a little of the paper around each piece.
If this is your first time making a dress, or if you're unsure what size to make, it's a good idea to make a practice dress out of less expensive cotton fabric first. You don't have to make the whole dress, twice, but by practicing you'll know if the bust fits correctly or if you need to make some adjustments. Remember, once you cut your material, you can't go back. Look at the dress pattern instructions to see how exactly to lay out the pattern pieces on your material. If you don't lay them out correctly, you may not have enough material to make the gown or they may not lay correctly when you wear the gown.
Pin the pattern pieces to the material and carefully start cutting out the pieces for your dress. Be careful to follow the lines and notches for your size. It's likely the pattern has at least three sizes included. Once all the pieces are cut out, follow the pattern directions to start sewing your fancy dress together.
Press it and try it on as you go, so you know if you need to take any of the seams in or out. When it comes time to hem your gown, try it on with the shoes that you'll be wearing. This will ensure that the hem isn't too short. Try to recruit someone to help you hem your fancy dress. It's nearly impossible to do an even hem on yourself.
To correctly hem the gown, stand on a hard surface. (not carpet). Use a ruler (with the end flat against the floor) to measure up from the floor. Turn the bottom of the dress under and pin it at the desired length. Don't go by how many inches of material you're turning up, hem it by measuring the distance from the floor to the bottom of the dress. This way your hem will be even all the way around the dress, even if you turned up 1 inch in the front and 1.75 inches in the back (remember you have a butt that's pulling it out slightly in the back)! Pin the hem all the way around while you're still wearing the dress.
When you take the dress off, press up the hem. It's best to hand sew the hem on a fancy dress, so it's not as noticeable. Complete the fancy dress, be it an evening gown, wedding dress, or prom dress, by adding any beadwork, lace or brooches.